Friday, March 16, 2007

Shabbat Shalom 26 Adar 5767

Amateur Hour in the White House

When I first learned that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had fired eight U.S. Attorneys, I didn't think much of it. When the Democrats attempted to turn the situation into a scandal, I thought it was typical Democratic strategy to use their friends in the media to get blood from a turnip. When Gonzales issued a statement saying mistakes had been made and he takes full responsibility, I said to myself, "what an idiot." You just turned nothing into something because you apologized, when there was nothing to be sorry for.

In March 1993 then AG Janet Reno fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys, a move unprecedented in our nations history. At the time the media didn't even raise an eyebrow even though at the time, Jay Stephens, then U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, was investigating then Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, and was "within 30 days" of making a decision on an indictment. Mr. Rostenkowski, who was selling the Clinton's economic program through Congress, eventually went to jail on mail fraud charges and was later pardoned by slick Willy.

During this time allegations concerning some of the Clintons' Whitewater dealings were publicized. By firing all 93 U.S. Attorneys, the Clintons conveniently cleared the way to appoint family friend Paula Casey as the U.S. Attorney for Little Rock. Casey never made any big Whitewater indictments. Once again very few members of the media questioned the motives and conflict of interest in her hiring.

So when AG Gonzales decided to throw fuel on a fire with a dying flame, I remembered why I have always believed this administration was communication challenged.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial page said it best. It may be this very amateurism that explains how the current Administration has managed to turn this routine issue of replacing Presidential appointees into a political fiasco. There was nothing wrong with replacing the eight Attorneys, all of whom serve at the President's pleasure. Prosecutors deserve supervision like any other executive branch appointees.

So why is the Bush administration so incompetent when it comes to communications? There is no simple answer to this question. To be fair toward the administration, they are disadvantaged by a 24 hour news cycle, which includes a press industry terribly slanted against them. However, that doesn't explain the ignorance stemming from the administration. In July 2003 the Bush Presidency lost a great asset when press secretary Ari Fleischer left his post for family reasons. Fleischer controlled the conversation with the media and communicated the White House point of view flawlessly. He was replaced by a communications lightweight in Scott McClellan who appeared to be out of league since his first day on the job. Today the job belongs to Tony Snow. The former Fox News personality is very good in front of the camera, but he jumped into a fire of ignorance stemming from his predecessor. Those flames have run wild and Snow is unable to bring the communications blunders under control.

Another contributing factor to the communication mishaps is media pariah Karl Rove. The man known as "the architect" for his brilliant campaign strategy in 2004, which re-elected the President, is a hated soul for that very reason. Amongst the mainstream press and Democrats, Rove is viewed as Hitler in the eyes of those who despise George Bush. Any opportunity to expose Rove as the inhumane monster the political left has deemed him, will be taken advantage of. By the time you read this, chances are you have been bombarded with news reports about Rove raising the idea of firing all 93 U.S. Attorneys in 2005. The media is going crazy about uncovered emails that show him communicating this idea. Somehow this suggestion, which is not unlawful or unprecedented, thank you Bill Clinton, is somehow a scandal.

Unfortunately, this non-story has legs because the White House is not capable of quashing anything related to Rove. Serving as Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Rove has his hands in the day to day operations within the administration. That is enough fodder for the media to turn any spark into a forest fire. To his credit the President believes and rewards loyalty. Which is why Rove has his current position. Nothing is wrong with loyalty unless it interferes with running the country.

In 2007 America politicians have to be as shrewed as the media. When the media is trying to turn nothing into something, don't help them. When the media distorts your position or refuses to report the positive affects of your policies, you must call them on it and fight back with a fist of fury. Unfortunately, the Bush administration doesn't seem to get it. Perception is reality and unless you are setting the perception, the truth is secondary to the political agenda of the media.


NCAA Tourney Day 2
Fox Sports rips day 1

The afternoon games hadn't concluded, but Fox Sports was determined to start ripping the days games with headlines of how boring the tournament was as well as disappointing that no major upsets occurred. Considering the very first game saw Maryland (4) barely hanging on against Davidson (13), contradicted Fox Sports complaints. To make the network look more ignorant, the evening games saw Duke (6) blow it against VCU (11). The Blue Devils haven't lost in the first round since 1996. I would call that pretty exciting.

Interesting note: After Duke lost, the Fox stories referring to the boring tournament seemed to vanish off their website. HMMMMMMMM.

Congrats to my Indiana Hoosiers who looked great in their game against Gonzaga. Unfortunately it will be near impossible for them to defeat UCLA Saturday. However, it is NCAA hoops and anything can happen.

Today's actions gets started with 13Th seeded Albany taken on #4 seed Virginia. at 12:15 EST. A couple of great games to check our will be Illinois (12) vs. Virginia Tech (5). I like Illinois to be the first #12 to defeat a #5 this tourney. #9 Purdue will take on #8 Arizona in what should be a great match up. I believe the Boilermakers will pull this game out.


Happy St. Patricks Day

I want to wish all my Irish friends a happy and healthy St. Patricks Day. I will also issue a "your welcome" when you offers thanks for your Corned Beef dining during the holiday.

Despite the popular assumption that corned beef originated in Ireland, it was probably born in New York instead, according to Russ Haggerty, who runs the Web site irishcultureandcustoms.com.

In Ireland beef was too expensive to be part of the Irish diet until the last century or so. Before that, pork was most often eaten, and a celebratory meal more likely included a boiled bacon joint with cabbage.

When the Irish began to emigrate to America in the 19Th century, they missed their traditional rashers. They took notice that their Jewish neighbors enjoyed corned beef, which was inexpensive. The fact that it lasted the winter didn't hurt, either, and may explain why March, the cusp of spring, became a popular time to eat it.

Throw in the Irish staple of cabbage and add the Jewish influenced corned beef, and an American tradition was born. Today corned beef can be readily found in Ireland during the holiday, but it is more for the sake of tourists. In fact, a 2004 poem by Frances Shilliday called "Good Grief -- Not Beef!" starts out:
"I just want to put something straight
about what should be on your plate,
if it's corned beef you're makin'
you're sadly mistaken
that isn't what Irishmen ate."

On St. Patty's day we are all Irish and in Chicago we even dye the river green. Personally I never understood this tradition, since the water is already green.

Gone Until Wednesday

Unless there is earth shattering news, expect this to be my last post until Wednesday. Your brilliant blogger is taking the family on a min-vacation and won't return until late Tuesday. Enjoy the NCAA basketball games, the St. Pattys festivities ans have a great Shabbus.

Paulie







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